Every year I look forward to the TV Show Village préféré des Français – the favourite village of the French, presented by the likeable Stéphane Bern. 2022 is the 10th anniversary of the show and there is much excitement in the bit of France where I live as Hesdin, one of the ‘big’ villages near my tiny little hamlet, is representing our region!
The show is a chance to see places you sometimes have never heard of, sometimes more well known, and certainly famous if they win this coveted title and join a list of gorgeous villages in France…
Take a look at the contenders for 2022:
Hesdin – Hauts-de-France
Hesdin in Pas-de-Calais (top photo), boasts a picturesque cobblestone square with an imposing Town Hall dating back to the sixteenth century, a former Spanish castle. Surrounded by cafés and small shops, this is the perfect place to sit and grab a coffee, relax, and people-watch. On Thursdays the square is filled with market stalls and people and you can buy everything from fruit and clothes to bread – the archetypal traditional French market. It’s a small town, everything is within easy walking distance and it’s friendly, welcoming and quintessentially French (the TV series Maigret was filmed here).
Quintin – Brittany
Awarded Small City of Character status, Quintin has two castles and thirteen listed monuments, watermills and mysterious megaliths. Once a centre of the weaving industry, there’s also a museum of linen.
Pino – Corsica
Pino is made up of 13 hamlets which pepper the landscape from the edge of the Mediterranean Sea to the crest of Monte Cupieta. Utterly unspoiled and uncrowded, it is like time forgot this beautiful area with its grand though largely empty buildings and glorious views.
Saint-Sulpice-de-Favieres – Ile-de-France
This village in the Essone department, metropolitan Paris, has a long heritage though most people have never heard of it, even in France. Its 13th-14th century church is as big as a cathedral. There is also a historical arboretum with some 6,500 species of tree, established in 1857.
Bergheim – Alsace, Grand Est
Close to the city of Colmar, Bergheim is a wine producing village and watched over by the castle of Haut-Koeningsbourg. It’s beautifully preserved with 16th century buildings, surrounded by ramparts and has an unusual museum dedicated to sorcery. Don’t miss the public garden with its 700 year old lime tree.
Levroux – Centre-Val-de-Loire
Medieval Levroux, in the former Provence of Berry, in Indre, Loire Valley, is picturesque and historic. It has long been a centre of leather production and still is – producing goods for the luxury industry to this day. Cobbled streets, half-timbered houses and an impressive medieval gate to the town.
Saint-Sauveur-en-Puisaye – Burgundy-Franche-Comté
It’s here in the village of Saint-Sauveur-en-Puisaye in the Yonne department, that the writer Collette was born. You can visit her former home, now a museum. This listed “City of Character” has many ancient buildings, a 12th century church and 11th century tower.
La Bouille – Normandy
La Bouille is in the Seine-Maritime department. Just 20m from the city of Rouen, it was one of the strongholds of the Impressionists. Turner, Gauguin and Sisley all captured its beauty on canvas.
Ainhoa - New Aquitaine
This pretty village in the Pays de Basque, Pyrénées-Atlantiques, is on the pilgrim route of Santiago de Compostela. Founded by monks in the 13th century, it is a town of red and white coloured houses, typical of the area, with espelette peppers drying round windows. Ainho is officially one of the most beautiful villages of France.
Dieulefit – Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes
Dielefit is in the Drome department, a land of lavender fields and olive orchards and stupendous scenery. The town’s pastel coloured houses and tree lined streets are watched over by mountains and surrounded by gorgeous countryside.
Port-Joinville – Pays-de-la-Loire
Port-Joinville in the Vendée is both the capital of, and the gateway to the Ile d’Yeu. Its very pretty with white washed houses and a thriving marina.
La Grave – Provence-Alpes-Côtes d’Azur
La Grave is in the French Alps, (Hautes-Alpes). Its traditional stone houses at the top of La Meije and the Girose glacier in the Oisans Massif make it a standout location. It’s a skiers paradise with an unspoiled landscape.
Le Malzieu-Ville – Occitanie
Le-Malzieu-Ville in Lozère, is one of the officially Most Beautiful Villages of France. It’s a medieval city with cobbled streets that are festooned with bunting in summer months, ancient buildings and historic towers.
Saul – Guyana
Representing the overseas territories of France, Saul is in the heart of the Amazonian park.